January 20, 2023 | Flash Brief

Pentagon Transfers Some Israel-based Artillery Shells to Support Ukraine

January 20, 2023 | Flash Brief

Pentagon Transfers Some Israel-based Artillery Shells to Support Ukraine

Latest Developments

The Pentagon is reportedly using part of a military stockpile it has maintained in Israel for decades to send hundreds of thousands of artillery shells to help the Ukrainian military defeat the Russian invasion. According to the New York Times, the United States has transferred approximately half of an expected total of 300,000 rounds of 155mm howitzer shells to Ukraine. The move represents a notable use of the Israel-based stockpile to aid a partner outside the region and compensate for insufficient domestic munitions production capacity in the United States.

Expert Analysis

“Washington should continue to help Ukraine defeat Putin’s unprovoked invasion, but Congress would be wise to push the Pentagon for updates on efforts to modernize and fully replenish War Reserves Stock Allies-Israel as quickly as possible. Washington and Jerusalem should also conduct regular military exercises that practice pulling equipment from the stockpile in a contingency.” — Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power

Stockpile in Israel One of Many Throughout the World

The United States military maintains stockpiles of mission-essential equipment, supplies, and munitions forward-positioned in allied nations around the world. These stockpiles can be used to support the U.S. military and partner forces rapidly when conflicts erupt. Such stocks enable combat forces to quickly draw equipment they need, often long before equipment can arrive from the United States or elsewhere.

The Pentagon uses the War Reserves Stock Allies-Israel (WRSA-I) to store precision-guided munitions, artillery shells, and other equipment. According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States began to stockpile military equipment in Israel in 1984 and in 1989 altered the terms of the stockpile to allow Israel access during emergency situations. The Pentagon allowed Israel to withdraw equipment from the stockpile during the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014. During bilateral training exercise Juniper Falcon in February 2019, U.S. officers simulated the transfer of munitions from WRSA-I to the Israel Defense Forces. Israel helps offset some of the costs associated with WRSA-I.

U.S. Has Underinvested in Defense Production

Insufficient U.S. defense industrial capacity makes it difficult to equip U.S. forces with the munitions they need while simultaneously providing Ukraine and Taiwan the quantities of munitions they urgently need. Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the United States has committed to Ukraine more than $26.7 billion in security assistance. Artillery systems and their associated munitions have figured prominently in those shipments. Examples include 160 155mm howitzers; up to 1,094,000 155mm artillery rounds; over 5,800 precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds; 72 105mm howitzers; and 370,000 105mm artillery rounds, according to the Department of Defense. Those amounts are in addition to a total of 65,000 122mm and 152mm artillery rounds the United States has provided.

Related Analysis

America’s Arsenal is in Need of Life Support,” by Bradley Bowman and Rear Adm. (Ret.) Mark Montgomery

Washington is Waking Up on Weapons for Taiwan,” by Rear Adm. (Ret.) Mark Montgomery and Bradley Bowman


Israel Russia Ukraine